This month I’m hosting the Carnival of Aces, which is my third time as a host. I’ve also submitted many blog posts to the carnival and interacted with many hosts. Thus, I think I know a few things about hosting, and have some advice to share.
1. Try to make sure you do not miss submissions. It has happened to me multiple times that I have submitted something to the carnival, and the hosts did not put in the round-up. Sometimes, when I point this out to them, they edit the round-up to put my submission back in, though this often means that not many people will read this submission since it was added after the round-up was posted. Sometimes, even after I contact the host multiple times, they still do not add the submission. This really sucks..
2. Have a draft round-up post ready at the beginning of the month, and add links to it every time you get a submission. This means that submissions are less likely to be omitted from the round-up (see #1). It also spreads out the work over the month so one does not have to write the round-up all at once at the end.
3. Most submissions are probably going to come at the end of the month. This truth has several implications. First of all, even if one follows the advice in #2, one will probably still have to write much of the round-up post at the end of the month. Second, if it’s the middle of the month, and if one has only gotten one submission, that does not necessarily mean that the participation is going to be low – it’s possible that the procrastinators will submit 5 things on the very last day, so keep your hopes up. Finally, this means that it’s a good idea to volunteer to host only if one is confident one will have sufficient spare time / internet access / etc. to manage the round-up at the end of the month (a lack of spare time is not much of a problem in the middle of the month).
4. Respond to submissions as soon as you receive them. For example, if you look at the call for submissions in this month, you will notice that I replied to everyone who made a submission through the comments within two days. This reassures people who have sent submissions that they have been received (in my experience, hosts which have promptly send confirmations have never left my submission out of the round-up post).
5. In the call for submissions, put in something like ‘if I have not confirmed your submission by X time, please re-submit.’ There was one incident in which someone submitted something to me, and I did not receive it. I don’t know what went wrong. Fortunately, a few days later they re-submitted, and the second time I did receive it. If they hadn’t re-submitted, their piece would not have appeared in the round-up. Of course, this advice only works when paired with #4.
6. General themes are more likely to work well, but specific themes can also work very well. One thing which struck me about the December 2013 Call for Submissions was this line “I’ve purposefully chosen a broad theme.” More people are more likely to be inspired to a broad theme, so, in terms of participation rates, it is the safer choice. On the other hand, the carnival which had the highest participation rate was “The Unassailable Asexual” which is a very specific concept. It seems that specific themes work really well when they are something that inspire a strong reaction in most ace people. An example of a very specific theme which had a very low participation rate was Aspergers and Asexuality. Not only was it very specific (which I actually ignored in my submission – I expanded it to all autistic people), it was something which most people in the ace community do not have much to say about. On the other hand, not all broad themes get high turnout either (example: “Pleasure”).
Some specific themes may get a low turnout just because of bad timing – for example, I think “Compulsory Sexuality” would have gotten a lot more submissions if it came out in July 2015 instead of July 2012. Likewise, the theme for next month’s Carnival of Aces (which I know about because, uh, I had to
win an epic battle over have email correspondence with Next Step: Cake to figure out who was going to host which month) would have been inappropriate for December 2012, but I think it will work well for December 2018 (and no, I’m not telling you what the theme is because that would be a spoiler).
On the other hand, potential participation is not the only consideration for hosts, and there may be reasons to choose themes which may not have the highest turnout.
7. It is possible to use temporary email addresses to protect one’s email. In the past, I used a temporary email address so I could accept email submissions without making my real email address public. I did not do that this time because
I barely won my epic battle with Next Step: Cake I discovered I was going to host the November 2018 carnival at the last minute and I did not want to delay posting the call for submissions any further.
8. But seriously, hosting the Carnival of Aces is not that hard. Personally, I find writing high quality submissions to the carnival to be more of an effort than hosting the carnival. Yes, being the host of a carnival is more of a responsibility, but the time/energy requirement is not particularly high, and it’s largely a matter of putting the round-up post together correctly.
As of the time this post is being published, there is no host yet for the January 2019 Carnival of Aces. If you’re interested in hosting a Carnival of Aces, this is a good time to volunteer.
Anyone else got advice for hosts of the Carnival of Aces?